Archives For conspiracy theories

barefoot

Conspiracy theories about mind control are nothing new. In fact, I’ve lost count how many books from Jim Marrs and David Icke purport some sort of mind control beam, or wave, or program by the nefarious Illuminati altering our consciousness so we become mere puppets to the will of an evil intelligence. And considering how many of them are out there, they’re getting harder to sell, even to an audience primed to hear more stories about sinister mind control experiments which sound pulled right form the pages of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, so if you’re a conspiracy theorist with a book to sell, you have to spice it up somehow, and sex slavery seems to be emerging as the new trend in getting people’s attention. A good example is a new book from the Conspiracy Journal which builds itself on the story of Cathy O’Brien, a woman who claimed that she was a victim of the CIA’s more sinister MKULTRA subproject codenamed Monarch in a Satanic Panic era potboiler called Trance Formation of America. Yes dear readers, sex can sell anything…

Now, where do we begin? When you open an online version of O’Brien’s book, you’ll be quickly hammered by countless attempts to prove that a) mind control exists, b) no one talks about it to hide how effective it is from you, thus engaging in a form of mind control, and c) because there are reams of paperwork showing that the CIA experimented with mind control, it means we have to believe O’Brien and her stories of CIA sex slaves created for the pleasure of malevolent big wigs whose cooperation America wanted to secure during the Cold War. Oy. Here’s the problem in this line of reasoning. The kernel of truth here is that the CIA did attempt to experiment with all sorts of mind control ideas to teach its spies, but just about all of them were spectacular failures so one of the big reasons why so many were kept hush hush is because they flatly didn’t work and the agency didn’t want anyone to know how badly they were struggling with anything other than drugging a person and very unevenly interrogating him or her in an intoxicated state.

But instead of showing how mind control can work, O’Brien simply claims that absence of a well understood or recognized form of mind control means that it must exist, then goes on to equate tightly controlled state propaganda with mind control. That doesn’t really work. Mind control has the connotation that there’s a device, or a chemical cocktail that will make you do the bidding of whoever has it. Propaganda is basically brainwashing through tight control of information. That’s not the same thing, and it relies on a totalitarian regime that could control everything its citizens see and hear, a regime like North Korea. And even there the total control breaks down when an errant signal gets picked up on the radio or an outlawed internet connection is established that lets the regime’s prisoner-citizens see into the outside world. Having lived in a real authoritarian state, I can tell you that America today is far too permissive to exercise that kind of “mind control by disinformation,” unless you can prove that the entire Western world is being brainwashed, a claim that requires a very significant burden of proof and for some political miracles to occur.

And this is where the mind controlled CIA/Illuminati/Builderberg sex slaves come in. They are the reward for those rich, famous, and powerful enough to advance the New World Order’s agenda, though one wonders since when the rich and powerful, for whom money is no object, became so easily bribed with sex. They can easily charm or buy their way into women’s panties as shown by countless scandals of exactly that happening. Even more bizarre to me is that stories of female sexual slaves are plentiful while virtually nothing exists on male sex slaves. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Surely a global network of thousands of power players must feature straight women with an appetite for lithe young men, or homosexual fatcats. So why do we hear nothing at all about them? Of course there’s more. O’Brien’s vivid recollections of abuse at the hands of all sorts of foreign diplomats, power brokers, and Satanic cultists — oh we’ll be back to that, don’t you worry for a second that we won’t — came to her through hypnosis, like the memories of alien abductees though a process we’ve seen before, a process which has no scientific basis.

So in the end, what we have is a mix of Satanic Panic ritual sexual abuse, misuse of hypnosis on highly suggestible subjects, and conspiracy theories borrowing from the Taxil Hoax. And that’s a perfect mix in the 1990s, when the tabloids are on fire with the idea of Satanic subliminal music, and wild claims of countless children being tortured and future Miss Teen Americas raped in the catacombs of cultists acting on behalf of the Devil, and greedy con men are writing confessions of their supposed guilt in the nasty undertaking. Isn’t it odd that O’Brien’s tale fits just oh so very perfectly with the predominant money making conspiracy literature of the time, literature quickly shown to be either untrustworthy or outright made up and sold as real accounts? And shouldn’t we wonder why perfectly these calibrated salacious rumors and supposed real tales of power, sex, magic, and aliens should be trusted when they’re repackaged to sell to us a second time, a few decades after they were last popular? Human trafficking like the type shown in Taken is bad enough without money-making boogeymen like the Repotoids, CIA, and the Illuminati. Maybe we should keep them out of a very real and very dire problem? Just a thought…

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While there have been numerous studies on the psychology of conspiracy theorists, people to whom everything is a conspiracy by the powers that be to push a secret agenda, and who keep countering criticisms of their theories by invoking negative evidence and malfeasance at higher and higher levels, most of them focused on how they shape their worldview and why. Few cover the apparent obsessive nature of the true believers of a conspiracy theory who go so far in the name of "finding the truth" that they lose all perspective of what they’re doing and why they get static from those they try to interrogate. For example, the Sandy Hook Truthers, who insist that the school shooting in New England is some sort of secret government plot, are demanding the death certificates of the murdered children and hysterically hyperventilated when the coroner’s office contemplated telling them to go away and wasting their time with their "theories."

Basically, the theorists’ argument goes like this. They didn’t see any photos of the dead kids or their bodies in body bags, therefore it’s probable that their parents were really actors and there were no kids actually shot that day. If they were, why are there no pictures and videos of their little corpses? Let’s see, how about because while our news media has very little shame, they’re still cognizant that it’s in such revoltingly poor taste to bombard us with pictures of dead children covered in blood and bullet wounds that there would be riots outside their offices? And why is a coroner thinking twice about giving them death certificates? Because he knows that they’ll only be twisted to serve the conspiracy theorists’ agenda. Somebody on Prison Planet, or InfoWars, or ATS, will announce that his girlfriend’s best friend’s boyfriend-in-law twice removed just got his fifth degree black belt in death certificate forensics and totally knows they’re fake. How? It’s what always happens with every document meant to answer conspiracy theorists.

Even if someone were to go as inhumanly far as exhuming the victims’ bodies and doing a full, public DNA analysis broadcast live on the web to confirm that the victims are who we were told they are, some fanatic obsessed with this theories will find a way to claim that the tests were just theater by the Reptoids from Tau Ceti or whatnot. Again, this is what conspiracy theorists do. All evidence that runs counter to their beliefs must be rationalized to still fit into them, made out as some sort of disinformation operation by evil forces, or dismissed as a fraud. You can tell that it will happen with their pseudo-religious approach to their theories: a messianic proclamation of a discovered truth no one wants them to know, with anecdotes, factoids, rumors, and third-hand, if not fourth-hand accounts, presented to the critics to be disproved and held up as dogma that all true believers must follow lest they be labeled a CIA/NSA/Illuminati mole in their midst…

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frosted illuminati

All the conspiracy theories around Agenda 21 are just gifts that just never stop giving. If you’ve been reading Weird Things for a while, you know about its roots as a supposed manifesto of an evil, socialist one world government trying to take over the world through environmentalism, and the subsequent paranoia about every single urban planning idea that features words like green and sustainability, with far right conspiracy theorists going out of their way to look for a threat in anything they could possibly tie to Agenda 21 and indulge in their fantasies of martyrdom in the Environmentalist Socialist Illuminati ruled society. The latest freakout mentioning the fluffy nice-to-maybe-think-about list of talking points from 1992 to be sang to the tinfoil choir? The U.N. will destroy your suburbs and make you move into a densely packed city to free up green space. If this sounds like a really far-fetched flight of the rabidly paranoid imagination that came from the rants on Glenn Beck’s version of Coast to Coast Radio, you’re right. It’s exactly what it is.

Here’s what the brouhaha is all about. Today’s urban planners are looking at how to help cities grow efficiently and they hate the suburbs, therefore, they’re suggesting less sprawl, more and better planned modular architecture, and fewer individual family homes as the best way forward for the future. And they have their reasons. Suburbs mean more roads, less farms, more waste, pollution, underutilized infrastructure and all that sprawl only makes the city bigger and frees a lot of parking space. We can certainly point to lower crime and good schools, but these are not functions of suburbs being suburbs. These are functions of taxes from high earners and smart voters who insist that their municipal governments put their hard-earned money to good use or cut the tax rate. When city planners look at cities, they’re not seeing how one’s desire for a plot of land with a single house on it really moves the overall community forward and the decline and fall of many exurbs across the nation shows that they’re not inevitable.

However, the catch is that despite not liking suburbs, city planners have no right to tell you how and where to live so if you find a plot of residential land, you can buy it and build anything you’d like on it. The city may not be happy with everything you might build, but unless you’re doing all sorts of illegal, police complaint generating things, there’s not all that much it can do even if it so badly wants to. Likewise, the U.N. has zero jurisdiction there because if every proposal it posted on the web was somehow binding or enforceable, Russia and the United States would be forced to mine asteroids and the Moon and share everything they find according to a U.N. schedule of who gets what resources around the world (see: The Moon Treaty) but because there’s nothing that can be done to enforce these ideas, following them is strictly optional. So the suburbs won’t go anywhere as long as there are people who’d like to live in them or see few options for raising their families in a more urban setting. They may shrink, but they’re unlikely to vanish, and even then it would be a case of lower demand rather than some sort of edict from above.

Just think about this, what elected government would want to tell people as fiercely individual as Americans where they could live and how? It would be a disaster and more than likely be thrown out as unconstitutional in some way, shape, or form. But then again, very few urban planners will be so radical as to level the suburbs and stick everyone in high rises. Give them a taller, slightly denser populated version of the suburbs with multi-level condominium blocks, parks, and more mixed use areas, and they’ll be happy. And again, as noted above, they have their reasons not to like sprawling McMansions as far as the eye can see, and those reasons do make sense if we consider entire cities rather than only what John Q. Public wants. Just because a document from over two decades ago says that it may be nice for cities to be more eco-friendly and sustainable in the long run, doesn’t mean that urban planners in America turned into mindless zombies from a magical power exuded by the vague bullet points and decided to demolish the nuclear family’s one plot, white picket fence home on the whim of their New World Order masters.

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smiley death grafitti

It started almost immediately after Sandy Hook. The reliably shrill alt med ignoramus who hasn’t read about a conspiracy theory he didn’t immediately love, Mike Adams, penned a fiery screed accusing psychoactive drugs of creating mass murderers and using a seemingly long list of very grizzly events to support his point. Since he’s Alex Jones’ best buddy and fills in on the Coast to Coast radio show, the meme has spread like wildfire among conspiracy theorists, and even the pundits of World Net Daily — known as World Nut Daily for some very good reasons — are now spouting the dogma of antidepressants turning people into a homicidal frenzy, all so Big Pharma can profit from untested drugs while the government covers up the dark truth. Although that last part there could’ve been from the Sandy Hook Truther conspiracy. It’s kind of hard to keep all of the overlapping conspiracies straight sometimes, though it’s usually a safe bet that there’s some mention of the government covering up something for someone nefarious so the bigwigs of the New World Order can keep their sex slaves and appease their alien overlords.

Here’s the immediate problem with the psychoactive drug-induced mass murders theory. It fails the statistical significance test. Tens of millions of people have taken what’s known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, to treat mild to severe depression, and social disorders like anxiety and OCD. Virtually all the brand names given by Adams and his friends and fans are from the same family of SSRIs, and we can safely ask why just a few dozen examples of a violent crime out of a population of tens of millions of patients mean that SSRIs turn people into crazed gunmen. After all, if your study population is, say, 20 million and your sample time period goes back decades, having some mass murderers, serial killers, and short tempered violent criminals is pretty much statistically inevitable. Plus, what about the other tens of millions of patients who didn’t commit any crimes? How can you argue for a causative effect between SSRIs and murder when the murderers are so few and far between as to be a tiny blip on the radar? And that’s not to mention that SSRIs don’t have any known side effects that increase one’s aggression.

In fact, patients on SSRIs with the most extreme side effects and conditions are likely to commit suicide, not homicide. A quick reading of the list presented by Adams and company mentions a number of suicides quite prominently, as well as changing the definition of mass murder to "any violent crime in which more then one person died," further weakening their own case. Yes, a lot of gunmen commit suicide after their massacres, true. But the problem is that it’s very difficult to make any definitive causative link between SSRIs and suicide. Considering that patients with an extreme case of depression may commit suicide in spite of the drug rather than because of it, as well as the fact that for patients with a history of abuse and trauma SSRIs might not really do all that much more than a placebo, the connection is very murky. While we can say that gunmen in the headlines today were taking SSRIs and other similar medications, we can make a stronger case that the medications failed to do their job than Adams can that their medication pushed all, or nearly all of them, them towards violence, because the former explanation better fits with the fact that tens of millions of SSRI-using patients aren’t violent, and the relevant scientific work.

So let’s review. Mass murdering gunmen on psychoactive drugs are few and far between even when the criteria for mass murder are loosened to include any crime in which two or more have been killed. The link between SSRIs and violence has been studied and shown not to exist. And while patients on SSRIs with a severe diagnosis are more likely to commit suicide, we could very easily make a sound case that suicides are the result of the medication failing to do its job, not driving someone to a suicidal state, much less to killing themselves after leaving a trail of victims in his wake. But none of this bothers the conspiracy theorists. To them, everything has to be a secret plot by those behind the scenes because this the only way they can imagine the world. If they allowed for random chaos to interfere or simplt incompetence to bring down economies and lose wars, why, the world would be an unpredictable place they couldn’t pretend to navigate like sages in the know observing a chess match. They would have to be ordinary shmoes just trying to make sense of events that all too often simply don’t make sense in the big picture…

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illuminati agent

When not crying and shilling for gold coins as some sort of super-currency which will be the only thing between certain death and survival in an economic collapse, Glenn Beck decided to write a book forecasting our dark future under the U.N.-led New World Order. Ok, not so much write a book as buy the rights to put his name on a conspiracy potboiler in which humanity has been all but decimated to protect the environment. People are imprisoned in featureless dwellings, kids are taken away form them in birth, they’re fed the equivalent of food pellets, and basically live a life that’s better described as an existence. It’s like peering into the brain of the black helicopter crowd, digging up every single nightmare they’ve ever had and making a crude Jackson Pollock painting out of them. Despite being treated as fiction, it’s very clearly supposed to be a warning about the impact of Agenda 21 when it’s implemented and used to rule the world.

Yes, here we go again with the hysterical fear of a toothless U.N. policy paper which, as noted a few times already, is just a list of suggestions that actually promotes free market capitalism and poses the issue of sustainability as an economic concern for healthy international trade. Yes, it calls for better human rights enforcement, women’s rights, and other liberal development ideas, but it’s mechanism for making sure its guidelines are implemented is to ask really nicely if some of the world’s nations would be so kind to try to implement them. This is why the Agenda 21 and black helicopter cloud insist on looking for moles in the government to stealthily force the U.S. to comply with the document. There’s no way that the U.N. can force anyone to follow it, no taxes it could levy, no military it could deploy, and no amount of money it can use as a bribe. But to find someone willing to take Agenda 21 as the blueprint for global governance is difficult at best.

If there are no consequences for not following along, you have to construct elaborate theories and layer upon layer upon layer of paranoia and backwards leaps of logic to create a cabal of sinister New World Order servants who want to destroy their nations from inside out and do the sorts of things that appear nowhere in the document that’s supposed to be their manifesto. But at the end of the day all they have is a long list of fears and allegations that have no basis in the real world and are backed up with out of context quotes, outright lies, and the ramblings of very popular talk show hosts who see a New World Order plot in everything from the mildew in their showers to a blizzard in January. Their fans, terrified of governments and chained by their own constantly fed and reinforced fears, have locked themselves in echo chambers in which they’re planning for life after the U.N.-led apocalypse, reciting the same mantras until you can hear the hoarseness in their voice through their comments on news sites.

Calls for urban planners to consider their cities’ environmental footprints as they design cities of the future — something already done by those asking for parks, playgrounds, and lakes that will welcome manageable wildlife — are taken as an Illuminati mandate for genocide and seizures of any private property that doesn’t fall within a secret spec sheet. Statements about the need for governments to root our corruption that hobbles economic development and hurts billions, very much the sort of stuff that most people often agree with as a good idea, become warnings to the world’s governments to follow the U.N.’s script or be dismantled by their secret agents. Really, when you take such a bristling attitude to toothless, vague, well-meaning suggestions and insist on twisting them into explicit threats by malevolent forces, you’re just looking for reasons to fear someone or to get angry, much like your counterparts on the far left. All so Glenn Beck can sell you some gold and Alex Jones can sell you another book or “survival kit…”

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anons in the wild

Ars has a longform story on an unlikely cyber warrior, Christopher Doyon, aka Commander X. If you see him out in the wild and think that he’s merely a lanky 50-something panhandler smoking like a chimney in coffee shops while surfing the web, you could certainly be forgiven for making that mistake. Little does anyone know that he’s leading the worldwide fight against fascism and tyranny in Egypt and Syria after having battled persecution and injustice in the U.S. Now, this highly ranked general of the Anonymous armies is a fugitive from the long arm of the law trying to punish him for a DDoS attack against a local government office when it tried to tell people not to randomly sleep in local parks. Except when you read through Doyon’s story and the caveats carefully noted by writer Nate Anderson, you’ll discover that only the last part of all this is really true while the rest is basically a giant ego trip from a homeless conspiracy theorist with a laptop and a cause. Though exactly what that cause is gets very quickly lost in the histrionics…

Basically, the fight being fought by Doyon is against tyranny and oppression although what he’d call tyranny and oppression shows that he’s not familiar with a real authoritarian government and these verbs are usually used to say "’The Man’ isn’t letting me do whatever I want." Were he one of the many victims of authoritarianism, odds are that he would’ve been long sent to do a stretch of very hard time in a prison camp and the arrest he would’ve endured wouldn’t have been very gentle, proper, or brought to a court that released him on moderate bail while they reviewed his case. Even the reason why he fled was egotistic. After he coordinated a DDoS attack on Santa Cruz county, the judge didn’t want him to use social media to organize another one and while the case was being heard, ordered him to stay off Facebook and IRC. Imagining that this was a ploy to prevent the transformative work he was doing around the world over IM, he set off for Canada to seek political asylum. Because apparently, he thinks he’s important enough for that.

For more detail, I certainly recommend checking out the story itself, it’s well worth your time, but what really resonated in it with me was the textbook image of a conspiracy theorist looking for a conspiracy to fight. Doyon the 50+ year old drifter living off $15 a day used on coffee, smokes, and a fast food sandwich, perfectly matches with society’s definition of a bum. While many of his peers were studying, working, and trying to build families and careers, he was dropping acid and hanging out with anarchists who saw everyone who didn’t see eye to eye with them as enemies, sinister sleeper agents of the state, sort of like the Agents in The Matrix. He has nothing to show for his half century on this planet. But Commander X, his alter online ego, is the liberator of the oppressed, the digital Gandhi, King, and Eisenhower, all rolled into one. He commands legions and legions of followers and fierce digital artillery in the form of "ethical botnets" that can muscle giant companies like PayPal off the web. Commander X’s facade of a vagabond is a cover, much like that of a secret agent. Now, doesn’t that seem a lot better and more grandiose?

Too bad that this too is pretty much bullshit. Well known Anons have a real distaste for him as a so-called "leaderfag" who thinks he’s in charge of things he’s not, and whose chest-thumping is effectively worthless. So he talks to a small group of his fans and imagines that he’s fanning the flames of revolution against puppet governments of the New World Order. Like many conspiracy theorists on the far left, he’s ready to jump down anyone’s throat should he hear disagreement, rushing screaming at top speed at various strawmen about supporting The Plutocracy or busy stuffing words into critiques of his absolutist worldview, accusing his detractors of simply taking fascist oppression lying down or being blind to the government’s misdeeds. Whatever legitimate gripe he has, has long been obscured by hyperbole and reflexive categorization of anything an authority figure with which he disagrees does as either a war crime or enslavement of the 99%. I can understand why. He’s lived in cozy far left echo chambers in which being radical was simply not radical enough so nuance and debate are simply not part of his world anymore.

Finally, I can understand that there are plenty of people out there not happy with the way things are and wishing their lives had turned out differently. A lot of people feel the same way, like we got stuck on a treadmill and are going exactly nowhere. I know I’ve written plenty of posts which decry the fact that so much potentially transformative science and education is constantly being given the short end of the stick by visionless, bloviating empty suits we elect to govern us. A lot of these potential programs could make the 9 to 5 cubicle grind unnecessary in the long term as well as give us more options for what to do with our lives. So I get it, we’re not in our utopias yet and I’m sure my version of a perfect would would be someone’s mechanical nightmare. But the way to change the world isn’t to pretend to command hordes of cyber anarchists. It’s a tedious, long process that may involve waiting until the visionless retire or fall out of power. It takes time and sorting through competing ideas. DDoS-ing the shit out of stuff produces a speed bump on the way to something new and to pretend that it makes a real difference leads nowhere.

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new world order

A while ago, a seemingly harmless opinion article about digital currency on a current events site provoked a flood of conspiracy theorists claiming that digital money was a tool for the New World Order to track down those they didn’t like, or that it was one of the signs of the End Times which were described in Revelations. Considering that the Illuminati probably don’t care about how you spend your time and money while planning global domination and whatnot, the odds that digital money was going to make you a target for the NWO seem rather slim. But there’s another news-making Mark of The Beast out there, according to a Texan high school student, an RFID tag to track attendance and make sure that a certain district gets its daily allotment per student. When she refused to wear it, the school suspended her and told her parents she should either wear a tag or find a new school. The parents were quite obviously furious about what they see as major violations of their freedom of religious expression and the legal manure soon hit the fan.

Considering that equating the mark of a demonic creature most historians say serves as a rather heavy-handed metaphor for Roman emperors, with an RFID tag in a badge seems hyperbolic at best, there is a very valid issue in all this. There’s significant potential for abuse if you can track the movement of every student at will and if the webcam case in Pennsylvania is any indication, administrators will abuse their privilege and law enforcement will decline to punish them, which really makes the mind boggle because the administrators in question took hundreds of candid pictures of students involved in various stages of undress and the FBI would’ve had a very solid child pornography case on its hands, one they should’ve made and prosecuted. What will RFID tags reveal about students’ habits and will administrators drunk with newfound power abuse this information to met punishments that cross the line? As the above-mentioned case shows, the only way to prevent that is not to give the administrators this information in the first place.

I suppose one could argue that millions of adults wear RFID tags in their ID badges for work and seem no worse off for it. But adults choose to work at a place that tracks their movements. High school students have very little say or choice in the matter and for many, moving to new districts may not be an option and if it is, an unfair one at that. For conspiracy theorists who ran with this story in InfoWars, this disregard for students’ rights is just the latest reminder that schools exist as brainwashing factories for the powers that be, an long held idea that both left wing and right wing conspiracy theorists believe. But the real issue we need to address is why this idea was not vetted with the public before it was implemented and what it says about how schools view how to educate their students. Are the kids and teenagers entrusted to them merely id numbers, exam and standardized test scores, and fund sources? How quickly the administrators wanted to tag their students and how they reacted when one said no seems to say an awful lot about how that school district views education and its students, and what it says is not encouraging.

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occult glyphs

After looking at some of the recent posts around here, I’m thinking that I need to get back to this blog’s roots. Less modern day tech, more AI, aliens, and outlandish conspiracy theory reviews. And lucky for me, Wired has feature story about a manuscript created by the Occulists, a rather obscure spin-off of the Freemasons in Germany sometime in the late 1700s, and this story is a perfect starting point to talk about secret societies in general. You see, the reason why the past is littered with secret societies of one sort or another is thanks to the prying eye of churches and monarchs who liked to keep very strict control over the populace to ensure their power. Want to experiment with obscure religious ideas? Burn heretic! Want to discuss a different from of ruling over a population? Off with your head traitor! Back in those days there was a very real and very powerful ruling class which was also very paranoid, and because it made the law, it could do the sort of things that even the most politically connected plutocrats today can’t even imagine. And so, to keep their traditions alive but also secret, the Occulists wrote a book we had to decrypt with a powerful computer and experimental purpose-built linguistic software.

Today’s secret societies supposedly in charge of the world’s most powerful governments could make your life very uncomfortable. Examples given by conspiracy theories include tracking your every transaction, spying on your social media use, blacklisting you from certain jobs, detaining you at customs, threatening you with legal actions, smearing you in the press, and maybe even making your murder look like an accident as a warning to your friends. Unpleasant, true, but you probably noticed the absence of things such as making your death a public spectacle, torture that would leave you disfigured for the rest of your life, being burnt alive, beheading with a rusty axe that might not do the job with just one whack, or if you’re really lucky or happen to be a very famous aristocrat, exile. That’s the fate awaiting those who were discovered to be members of secret societies because any group outside of the mainstream was immediately assumed to be evil and a threat to the powers in charge. The Occulists were no different since they seemed to have been associated with Freemasonry, carrying a lot of baggage with their history.

While calling yourself a Freemason in public now summons conspiracy theorists to speculate if you have a role in creating the latest new banking crisis or war for your personal gain or at the order of your masters, when the Occulists gathered to perform their versions of Masonic rituals, you would’ve been deemed a Satan worshipping sodomite on a mission to undermine the power and sacred authority of the church and the king or queen. In reality, you would’ve met to indulge in banned plays, reading literature deemed unfit for the general populace, and talk about new, potentially blasphemous ideas in relative privacy and comfort, just letting your mind roam. If you were in the Hellfire Club, you may enjoy some casual sex on the side and call it a good night of fun and entertainment. If you were in the OTO, you would’ve performed rituals that you felt could connect you to the mysteries of the past. There would be nothing all that sinister about what you did, but the Alex Jones’ of the day would be calling for your head in much the same way they do now on the web, radio, and their occasional stints on TV shows.

It’s little wonder that well-connected, wealthy, and powerful people want to join exclusive groups like the Builderbergs or have prominent roles in Masonic lodges. They want to be able to share opinions without public scruitiny, talk about things they wouldn’t ordinarily discuss, and find out who they should really meet if they want to advance their careers or projects. At a certain point, people who have high level positions, are surrounded by aides and assistants, and bombarded with pleas for their time, advice, and help, need an easy way to figure out who’s really important, to put it bluntly. Joining exclusive clubs or going to exclusive parties gives them an easy way to boost their profiles or see who’s on the up and up. Secretive organizations like Skull and Bones and the aforementioned Bilderberg Group seem to be all about networking and getting to know ambitious and promising people on a first name basis. They’re basically the hushed versions of the country club. It’s not exactly the sanctuary for rebellious freethinkers to indulge in experiment after experiment and find like-minded friends it used to be in the 1700s, but it still carries similar overtones and provides an escape from the spotlight for those who feel they need it.

Of course for those more paranoid than most of us, if something takes place in secret, it must be evil or at least nefarious, otherwise it would be made public. People like Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and Jim Marrs make a living hypocritically arguing that if all the societies they suspect of running the world behind closed doors have nothing to hide, they should be holding all their meetings in public while lamenting intrusive government surveillance as an invasion of their right to privacy, forgetting how quickly and easily the media savages people for simply speaking their minds on a regular basis even if they’re just discussing a hypothetical situation. I’ve lost track of how many times something I wrote sarcastically or just explored in a post was assumed to be my opinion on the matter, or how many times something I said was taken out of context and twisted into things I never said or implied. But I’m just a blogger and a techie. The stakes for me to bluntly speak my mind aren’t all that high. For the head of a major bank or a powerful politician, they’re huge; one of their gaffes or snarky comments can quickly become international news.

And so it seems that secret societies are a necessary construct to let us speak our minds and vet our ideas in the company of those also not too shy to share their experience. In the words of Oscar Wilde, if we give a man a mask, he’ll tell us the truth. These secret and occult groups are masks for men and women to tell what they think is the truth to each other. Although when such groups become too exclusive and too cut off, there’s always the danger of creating something a lot more sinister than a forum to throw out and discuss ideas: an echo chamber where not truth but groupthink shapes the members’ thoughts and actions. Conspiracy theories shouldn’t worry that secret societies gather to talk about taking over the world, they should be worried that they start publishing tome after tome, arguing about their way of thought being the only acceptable or reasonable way to consider world events, lobbying politicians with ideas that obviously received little to no intellectual challenge. But the level of debate is up to each secret society to enforce and which this may be a bizarre proposition, we should accept the secret societies as a release valve for their members and innocent of instituting a New World Order until proven otherwise…

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lost at baikonur

Apparently the start of the Cold War must’ve been really easy on intelligence agencies since it seemed that whatever strange rumor surfaced, these agencies bought it hook line and sinker, if you believe a relatively recent article on Discovery Space. In this case, the rumors were those of mysterious cosmonauts who either didn’t survive the Soviet space program’s more ambitious or riskier efforts, or survived them but were now unfit to be shown in public. Now, you can’t fault an enthusiastic conspiracy theorist too much when it comes to the Soviet space program because for its entire history, it was shrouded in deep secrecy and cloaked by zealous propaganda that made sure only the successes were ever broadcast or detected. The Politburo feared that any public accident would be immediately taken as a sign of weakness and damage the image they were trying to project for the USSR and its doctrine of "classify now, announce later if ever," had even spawned some bizarre space-related rumors among Soviet citizens.

One of the more pervasive conspiracy theories has always been that of a flight before Gagarin famously soared into orbit, and another astronaut who was either denied fame or never made it back. At the time, the USSR could afford several do-overs for the first manned launch, and so some reporters were told by unnamed sources speaking off the record — or so they thought — about a Soviet test pilot who either died when his rocket exploded on the launch pad, made it to orbit but didn’t survive the re-entry, or survived the flight but was horribly disfigured after a very nasty accident during descent and hid away from the public eye. The last version was popular mostly in the Western Communist circles while the Russian conspiracy mantained that Gagarin was an alternate for a pilot who died during the mission. Adding to this theory’s popularity was a Soviet admission that Gagarin ejected from his spacecraft rather than land with it, as they had initially insisted after the flight’s announcement. If the government would lie about something as small as that, goes the conspiracy mindset, what else could they have covered up?

Couple the leaks about failures, accidents and shortcomings beneath constant claims of a swift mastery of manned spaceflight with bizarre transmissions caught by radio enthusiasts and often attributed to Soviet spacecraft or spy stations, and you can see why the conspiracies would be flourishing. Everyone knew the Politburo was image-conscious to a fault and admitting that their vaunted space exploration program was not going as smoothly as it had hoped, or acknowledge any accidents which could be simply covered up and forgotten, simply wasn’t in its nature. And so these rumors grew and survived, taking every Soviet article or photograph of its cosmonauts, their craft, or their training as more proof that something was being glossed over, or someone’s death or disfigurement was being suppressed for all those happy promotional news reels and fluff pieces in the state-run press, even when things were indeed going smoothly. But that’s what will happen when a government in inherently dishonest with its people and the world. Even when it really does have nothing to hide, people are convinced that it does, and is actively hiding it…

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new world order

One of the biggest reasons why I don’t look forward to elections and rush to shut off all political news shows in earshot is that today’s politics simply infuriate me. From giving clueless dullards inordinate sway over our scientific development to debates by soundbyte and out of context quotes, it’s as if a nefarious committee went over the legal codices of civics and representative democracy with a fine tooth comb while wondering what they could do to make everything from voting to public political discourse as pointless or painfully vapid as humanly possible. My claims to expertise in civics aren’t exactly on par with those of Constitutional lawyers to put it mildly, just an AP class on law and government in my senior year in high school. But I don’t think that you need a doctorate in political science to howl with rage and frustration when conspiracy theories from Coast 2 Coast Radio become a major political party’s platform for science.

For the sake of FSM’s noodle-wrapped meatballs, what is wrong with these people? Yes, once again we’re dealing with their paranoia of Agenda 21, the toothless, vaguely worded collection of lofty ideas which amount to endorsements for free trade zones, observing basic human rights, a call for sustainable development if it tickles the signatories not to dump a few million barrels filled with toxic waste into the ocean on a regular basis, and using their powers wisely. Signatories on the agenda can’t be punished for not following through, there are no specific metrics for them to hit, and there’s no tax or legislative measure that the U.N. can levy to compel the countries to go through with what the agenda says. Yet in the minds of Glenn Beck and Alex Jones, pundits who are so afflicted with paranoia it’s almost tempting to ask if they’re suffering from a condition that should be diagnosed and treated rather than blasted across the airwaves, Agenda 21 is a New World Order wish list that nations must follow under threat of force.

Agenda 21 has been a favorite hobbyhorse of Glenn Beck, who argues that it is a covert means of achieving “centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth” as well as Alex Jones’ all-purpose conspiracy theory clearinghouse Infowars, which calls it a “globalist death plan for humanity.”

Globalist death plan for humanity? Do these dimwits listen to themselves? It’s like getting a little heavy handed advice from a stranger on where you should park your car in a busy city center, then lashing out that you’re being threatened with beatings and arrest if you park your car on a different street corner. And yet, this is what the regressive wing of the GOP is doing, questioning whether new bike paths, parking meters, or a change in the zoning laws was dictated by a death panel from the U.N. plotting to take their guns and put them in reeducation camps North Korea-style. Now, in a rational democracy, the parties would laugh, point out that Agenda 21 has about as much bark as a newborn kitten and about as much bite behind it as that passive aggressive text you might get from an old ex, and go on with the business of actually running the nation. Not today. No, today the Republican Party kowtows to every right wing follower of InfoWars, Prison Planet, and rabid Beck fanatic. It’s one thing to have a "big tent," it’s another thing to turn your party into a circus ran by proud ignoramuses who take their marching orders from lunatics.

Meanwhile, a seemingly unrelated article from the same source by David Rothkopf laments the loss of a time when the government inspired research and development projects on a massive scale, projects that took us to the Moon and turned so much science fiction into science fact. I’m obviously aware that the processes involved were not idyllic and we shouldn’t get all misty eyed about the peak of the Cold War. However, Rothkopf makes an important point that makes tech-obsessed, scientifically educated nerds like me want to say "yes, yes, a thousand times yes!" In the 21st century we need a government that turns to knowledge and cutting edge technology for permanent solutions to an economic malaise, and for which a knowledge-based economy isn’t just a trendy buzzword for having a majority of the GDP being generated in the services sector, but a commitment to research and development. We need hyper-efficient 3D printing factories that put Chinese cheap labor to shame by matching their cost and greatly exceeding the quality of the products they make. We need a thriving space program that creates tens of thousands of jobs and can lay the groundwork for making money from space travel.

Instead we have hysterical soundbyte fights, conspiracy theories, and voters who have no idea how their taxes are being spent asking where the jobs are while dismissing their best bet on an entirely new economy through scientific innovation as a pointless waste of money by a cabal of godless, communist heathens on the right, and either malicious, profit-driven exploitation of the public by global syndicates, or misguided materialism of the left-brained on the left. If you allow me to paraphrase a titan of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, they seem to believe that democracy means that their ignorance is just as important as others’ knowledge and instead of saying no to their more fevered fantasies and fragile ideologies, we bow down before them. Politicians whose understanding of science and technology is actually decent and who are completely reasonable in their approach to the subjects, like John Huntsman for example, are written off and doomed to failure as other politicos decide to rule in the style of Roman Caesars; by giving their followers bread and circuses instead of a future. And this, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t just realpolitik that we have to accept with a sad shrug. It’s a tragedy, one only better education and an overhaul of the current media pundit class can ever hope to fix.

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